20 life Saving Tips for the Very Busy Manager
You’ve got a lot to do today, just like every day. But do yourself a favor and find time to implement these tips below. You’ll save yourself hours of work and years of stress.
1. Know Your Role for Every Meeting You Ever Attend
Figure out what’s needed or expected of you and do that. Don’t over-prepare for inconsequential meetings that won’t educate you or advance your (company’s) goals; doing so just takes time away from tasks that really need your attention.
2. Always Have a Meeting Agenda
This will keep everyone on task and with an end time in mind. It’ll also prevent any detractors from taking up everyone’s time with personal issues, and it’ll give you, as the leader, a legitimate reason for taking the reins back in the meeting without appearing malicious.
3. Leave Every Meeting With a List of Action Items and Deliverables
To avoid wasting your own and others’ time with a meeting that sounded great but accomplished nothing, everyone should leave with a clear understanding of what’s expected of them post-meeting. Review these lists aloud at the end to ensure that everyone else also knows and can hold each other accountable as well.
4. Schedule Meetings With Yourself
You need to get work done, and you do that best and most efficiently when you’re left to your own devices in your office. So, section off some work time for yourself and honor those meetings as you would a meeting with any other important person.
5. Keep a Calendar
This is more than a To-Do list; it’s your one-stop shop for all your appointments, tasks, personal life schedule, and other vital things. Offload all the small things you’d normally have to remember and leave them here for safe keeping until you need to remind yourself of them again. I highly recommend the Franklin Planner system for this.
6. Prioritize Must-Do Tasks
Plan ahead so that your important tasks never become urgent, last-minute tasks because you’ve neglected them in favor of less-important ones. Separate must-dos from other tasks that you can get to later when you have more time.
7. Do Your Hardest Work of the Day First
You’ll be tackling it with a fresh mind, which is always best. You’ll also feel awesome and accomplished after completing the task, thus setting you up to have an even more productive day.
8. Track Your Accomplishments
Make notes of what you’ve accomplished (or all the efforts you’ve made toward that big goal) for those rough days when it feels like nothing seems to be going in your favor. This will help get the ball rolling again.
9. Work in 20-Minute Intervals
The normal human attention span works in spans of 20-25 minutes. After that time interval, the mind begins to wander. So, change tasks or take a quick break every 20 minutes to stay as productive as possible.
10. Use a Task Timer
It’s easy to get caught up in the thick of a task. So, to remind yourself to take a break, use something like The Pomodoro Technique and Timer, or any basic kitchen timer, so you don’t waste more time continuously checking your watch to see when your 20 minutes are up.
11. Don’t Over-Schedule Yourself
Leave yourself small chunks of time throughout the day to mentally rest for a few minutes, or to review that essential document right before that important meeting with your CEO. Being able to avoid rushing around from task to task putting out fires will drastically increase the quality of any work you produce.
12. Make Time for Down Time
Even the highest-paid and most-focused executives need time off. Breaks are vital, as our performance starts to suffer when we demand too much of ourselves for too long. As author Stephen Covey shares, at the very least, we all need to take time to “sharpen the saw” so we can do our best and most efficient work.
13. Avoid “Multi-Tasking.” It’s Not Real Anyway
Psychology and neurology have proven that the human mind cannot actually multi-task. Instead of performing two tasks simultaneously, the brain really just rapidly shifts its attention back and forth from each task. More mental energy is spent (and wasted) switching back and forth than if you had simply focused on one task and knocked it out before moving on to the next.
14. Maximize on Your Commute Time
If you take the subway to and from work, rather than zoning out, use that time to read your notes to yourself from yesterday to refresh your mind and restart the creative juices flowing. If you walk to work (which is a great way to jump-start your day), use that time to call the folks you need to get in touch with to create new business leads.
15. Listen to Your Body Clock
Are you an early bird or a night owl when it comes to getting work done? Figure it out for yourself, rather than simply abiding by someone else’s clock, and schedule your most important projects for when you know you do your best work. Don’t waste your prime time on simple tasks you can do when your mind is half elsewhere.
16. The Brain Is Most Creative When it’s a Bit Tired
This is because it’s not as good at filtering out distractions, and thus, the connections between ideas are more fluid, which helps us to see things in new ways. Just think of how many of your great ideas came to you in the shower at the end of a long day. So, get creative at the end of a hard day’s night.
17. Really, Just Get That Smart Phone Already
I know this may sound like a “keeping up with the Joneses” kind of reason, but we exist in the age of information. And the longer it takes you to access the information you need, the more time your competitors have to scoop up on a new contract that should have been yours.
18. “If it don’t make dollas, then it don’t make sense.”
a. Sales reps regularly operate on the concept of “pay time” – generally 9am to 6pm – when most businesses are open for negotiations and potential sales. Similarly, during your “pay time” hours, you should avoid anything that isn’t directly related to earning you money. Save for later all other tasks not directly related to turning a profit.
19. Master Emailing with Google Boomerang
Even though we all work on different schedules, you still always want your email to appear at the top of that client’s or your boss’ inbox. So, use Boomerang to compose your emails at your convenience and schedule them to send out whenever you think it’ll make the most impact.
20. Busy Does Not Equal Productive
Just because you’re flying around the office, city or country appearing to be balancing a lot of tasks doesn’t mean that you actually are. Every so often, stop and reflect on the quality and the efficiency work you’ve been doing recently, and then adjust accordingly. Appearances can be deceiving, but you never want to fool yourself.